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The Lower Yellowstone River is one of Eastern Montana’s most important resources. It offers exceptional recreational opportunities like fishing, boating, and camping. It supports local businesses. It provides critical irrigation water to Eastern Montana farms and ranches. And it supports the way of life that makes Eastern Montana special.
The Lower Yellowstone also has tremendous untapped potential. By making careful investments in infrastructure and public access, we can help the Lower Yellowstone sustainably support more recreational users, attract visitors who will strengthen Eastern Montana’s economy, and support our communities by bolstering public health and making our outdoor way of life more accessible to everyone.
During the 2021 Legislative Session, Montana legislators approved an initial $4 million investment in the Lower Yellowstone corridor. In spring of 2021, the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks, with the support of Governor Greg Gianforte, appointed a group of 12 stakeholders representing diverse interests along the river corridor to the Lower Yellowstone River Corridor Advisory Committee. This committee was tasked with developing recommendations and a vision for FWP to carry forward.
In December 2021, the committee released its recommendations, including the following: a new three-unit Lower Yellowstone state park; over 12 potential new land acquisitions from willing landowners to increase public access; new land and water-based trails; and general infrastructure improvements including fishing access sites, boat ramps, campsites, potable water sources, and bathrooms.
The Committee took great care to provide recommendations that are achievable, practical, broadly supported, and within the budget provided by the Legislature. It carefully considered each recommendation to incorporate conservation, community, agricultural and financial values, and every recommendation is supported by a consensus of all Committee members.
The recommendations also align with the proposal developed by the Lower Yellowstone River Coalition, which seeks to provide actionable, realistic, and innovative solutions to help the Lower Yellowstone River, and Eastern Montana as a whole, fulfill their incredible potential. Our proposal has earned support from over thirty elected officials, cities and towns, county commissions, economic development experts, tourism groups, and recreation and conservation organizations.
We are proud to support the Lower Yellowstone River Corridor Citizens' Advisory Coalition’s vision, and we urge the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks to pursue the recommendations outlined in the Report, for the benefit of our communities, our river, and our outdoor way of life.